Independent travel in Iran: 1 to 4-week itinerary

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Important – For some reason, the Iranian Government has decided to block my website, so if you want to browse Against the Compass while you are in Iran, you must use a VPN. For more information, read how to choose the right VPN for Iran

Iran, the hottest destination of the decade, is a country filled with a very old history, mind-blowing architecture and amazing people.

The country is, however, extremely big, has been inhabited for millennia and was ruled by one of the most powerful empires that ever existed in human history.

As a consequence, Iran is, today, an extremely complex society home to an infinite number of historical sites, many of which are not open to the public yet.

And there is even more.

With some striking mountain ranges, the Persian Gulf islands, unique deserts and countless towns and cities with different kinds of people and culture, Iran is a country which you can’t finish, not in a lifetime at least.

However, whether you come here for a week or a month, getting a glimpse of the great power of the Persian empire or getting to know some locals over a cup of local chai is totally possible.

After visiting the country twice for more than months, I have compiled this 1 to 4-week itinerary for independent travel to Iran that contains my favorite places in the country.

For practical information, including visas, transportation, Islamic rules, etc, you should read my Useful tips for traveling to Iran


Independent travel to Iran


Independent travel in Iran: 1 to 4-week itinerary

It took me almost two months to visit all the places I mention, spending 4 to 5 days on each one, which is a lot of days. However, if you plan well-ahead and stay 2 or 3 days in each one, you could perfectly squeeze my Iran itinerary in a month.

If you like my website and found this post useful, remember that, if you book a hotel, bus, flight or travel insurance through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me maintain and keep Against the Compass going! Thanks

Here you will find:

Moving around
Travel insurance for Iran
Accommodation in Iran
Tours in Iran

1-week itinerary

2-week itinerary

3-week itinerary

1-month itinerary

More resources


How to travel independently around Iran (Transportation)

Iran is an extremely easy country to move around, as it has a very well-connected bus network and plenty of domestic flights. Before, it was a bit difficult to buy tickets, as most locals sites wouldn’t accept foreign credit cards.

However, things have changed now and the guys from 1stQuest have launched a website where you can book both bus tickets and flights online.

The good news is that the readers of Against the Compass can get an exclusive 5% discount by using my promo code: ATC-QST

Domestic flights – Iran is a pretty big country, so for those short in time, taking a domestic flight would be wise, especially for going from Tehran to places like Qeshm Island, Mashhad or Shiraz. 


Bus – Buses are the way to go in Iran. There are endless connections and the VIP buses are particularly comfortable and not expensive at all. 



Travel insurance for Iran

You should know that, because of the sanctions imposed by the USA, most travel insurance providers such as World Nomads don’t cover travel in Iran.

After doing some research, I found that IATI Insurance is one of the very few companies that offers completely valid travel policies for Iran. They have a wide range of different plans for every kind of traveler and budget, besides offering good coverage at a very competitive price.

Moreover, the readers of Against the Compass can get an exclusive 5% discount (you will see the discount after calculating your quote). 


If you want to know more options, don’t forget to read How to find the right travel insurance for Iran

iran tour itinerary
Some men baking bread in Yazd


Accommodation in Iran

As you may know, popular websites such as, don’t have hotels listed in Iran.

Therefore, how can you book a hotel in Iran? Well, you have a couple of options:

  1. Via your travel agency (if you go on a tour)
  2. Making a phone call
  3. Just showing up and trying your luck
  4. Via a local booking website like 1stQuest

From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels, 1stQuest has many listed hotels all over the country. 


Remember that you can also get an exclusive 5% discount on all your bookings, by using my promo code: ATC-QST

Side note – Keep in mind that the Iranian Government sometimes blocks this sort of travel websites, so 1stQuest may not be accessible from an Iranian server. In this case, there are 2 things you can do:
1 – Book the different hotels in advance, before going to Iran
2 – Get a VPN to access censored sites. For more details, check how to find a VPN for Iran


Tours in Iran

I know that this article is supposed to be about traveling independently in Iran but, just in case, I am also mentioning some tour options.

Once again, I strongly recommend you book your tours with 1stQuest. Why? Because:

  • You won’t find an agency offering cheaper tours
  • They have tours for both the budget and the non-budget traveler

They have 2 standard tours:

  • Iran on a budget – 9-day tour, staying in 2-3-star hotel accommodation and moving around by VIP bus. Price: 369€
  • Iran highlights – A 12-day tour, with private transportation and staying in 5-star hotels. Price: 1,650€


Moreover, they also offer different tours and activities (Experiences) to specific destinations in Iran:

  • Kaluts Desert (85€ per person)
  • Shiraz (39€ per person)
  • Qeshm Island (90€ per person)
  • Esfahan (29€ per person)
  • Meeting Iranian nomads (29€ per person)
  • And more…


And remember that you can get an additional 5% discount by using my promotional code: ATC-QST – You can use it as many times as you want. 

The desert of the Kaluts


Independent travel in Iran – 1-week Iran itinerary

Iran is a massive piece of land so, if you only have one week, after Tehran, the closest cities are Kashan and Esfahan.

In Iran, you have to pay to enter most sites, including all the mosques, gardens and museums I am suggesting in this article. Usually, most sites charge between 150,000 and 200,000IR, which is 5 to 10 times more than what the locals have to pay


Map of the one-week Iran travel itinerary


Day 1 – Tehran

The capital of Iran is a real chaotic metropolis, where you can find an extremely mixed society, both the traditional, conservative Iran and the most hipster people in the country. From ancient bazaars to 21st-century malls, Tehran is a very surprising city that could you keep busy for several weeks. This mixed society reminded me a lot to Beirut.

If you are lucky and the sky is clear, you must go to Tabi’at Bridge, the place from where you get the best views of the Tehran skyline. Also don’t forget to check out the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, a real maze of bustling streets and carpet shops, and Golestan Palace, located in the middle of the city jungle but where you find beautiful gardens and the classic, colorful Persian tiles Iran is famous for.

A lot of people who visit Iran also go to Caucasian countries. Read my ultimate guide for traveling to Georgia

Moreover, if you are into politics, don’t forget to check out what used to be the actual USA Embassy before the 1979 revolution, as today it is a museum with plenty of anti-American propaganda.

Last, if you wanna take a break from all the chaos, go to Darband, located at the bottom of Mount Tochal and almost reachable by metro. With plenty of waterfalls and small day-treks, this was my favorite spot in the city.

For more information, read: Things to do in Tehran in 2 days

Tehran Grand Bazaar
A carpet seller in the Tehran Grand Bazaar

Where to stay in Tehran

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Backpacker Hostel – Heritage Hostel – Plenty of common areas, a beautiful garden with a Persian pool, a barbecue place, and very modern facilities. I honestly think that this is the best hostel in the country and the best choice for independent travelers in Iran. CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE LATEST PRICES

Budget Hotel – Khayyam Hotel – A cheap option, but very good, option near the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, so this is a great choice for budget travelers that don’t want to stay in a hostel. CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE LATEST PRICES


Getting out of Tehran

Since this is the capital, you can come and go by public transportation from anywhere in the country.

Tip – In order to save time, some independent travelers book a one-way ticket to either Shiraz, Yazd or Esfahan and visit all the cities on their way back.

You can buy your bus & flight tickets through 1stQuest website and use my discount code: ATC-QST

Golestan Palace
The colorful tiles from Golestan Palace


Day 3, 4 – Kashan

Kashan isn’t the greatest of all the Persian cities but its privileged location makes it very convenient for any Iran itinerary.

This also means that tour groups abound but this shouldn’t put you off because I can’t deny that it is actually pretty and, if you don’t have the time to visit Yazd, Kashan also has the famous wind towers and windy mud-brick alleys.

Besides the classic bazaar, where you can check out the textiles Kashan is popular for, don’t forget to visit Khan Amin al-Dowleh Timche, a mosque with one of the craziest dome ceilings; the traditional Persian Fin Gardens and the unique Agha Bozorg, a big mosque whose wall colors are confused with the houses from the old city.

Tip – If you want a more off the beaten track option, Qom is a better alternative to Kashan. I personally didn’t go there but it is a very holy city with some amazing shrines and the location is also very convenient the 1-week Iran itinerary.

For more information, read: Things to do in Kashan

Agha Bozorg – Photo by Fulvio Spada

Where to stay in Kashan

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Budget Hostel – Sana Historical Hostel With both private rooms and dorms and located right in the old town, Sana is the most popular choice for independent travelers. Click here to see the latest prices

Mid-range – Mahinestan Raheb – A few hundred-years-old house which has been beautifully restored into a beautiful hotel, very comfortable and lovely. Click here to see the latest prices

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Kashan


How to get to Kashan from Tehran

It’s very easy. Buses run regularly and it is only a 3-hour journey. You can also go by train but it takes 1 or 2 additional hours.

Click here to check the bus timetables from Tehran to Kashan

Some Tahchin I had in Kashan


Day 5, 6 – Esfahan

Tip – If you have more than a week, consider staying in Esfahan for at least 3 or 4 days.

Esfahan is Iran’s most amazing city and its mosques are one of the main reasons independent travelers come to Iran.

With hundreds of years of history, Esfahan has always been home to a very important community of intellectuals and scholars and, historically, its importance was often compared to Athens or Rome.

Today, according to Iranian standards, this is a pretty modern city, very clean, composed of perfectly tree-lined streets, which makes it very pleasant to walk around.

The first place you need to go is Imam Square, where you find both the Shah Mosque and Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, whose ceilings and domes will leave you breathless. Imam Square is also a place where locals hang out, especially during late afternoon and evening, so I recommend you not to rush and stay there for a while.

During the day, I suggest you stroll down the old bazaar, one of the nicest in the country, with plenty of spices and the worldwide famous creepy mannequins.

In the evening, a good idea is to head to the river to see the different historical bridges, the most famous being Si-o-seh Pol. However, the last time I was there in April 2018, the river was completely dry, which made me very sad.

Oh! By the way, Esfahan is also famous for some sweets called gaz, which are filled with walnuts and have a gummy texture. Also, don’t forget to look for the local biryani (which is quite different from Indian and Pakistani) and saffron ice-cream.

Iran itinerary 1 week
Imam Square – Iran itinerary 1 week

Where to stay in Esfahan

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Budget Hostel – Ragrud Hostel – A brand-new hostel with very modern facilities, awesome staff and the best reviews ever. I am sure this place will, very soon, become very popular in Esfahan. Click here to see the latest prices

Nicer – Setareh – Traditional breakfast, super friendly and English-speaking staff and very close to the main attractions.  Click here to see the latest prices

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Esfahan


How to get to Esfahan from Kashan

There are several buses all day long and it is just a 3-hour trip.

Click here to see the bus timetables from Kashan to Esfahan

Iran itinerary 3 weeks
Si-o-seh Pol, without water – Iran itinerary 3 weeks


Independent travel to Iran – 2-week Iran itinerary

Most people would have two weeks for traveling independently in Iran.

If you want to save time, consider flying from Tehran to Shiraz, as you will save a 1,000-kilometer journey.

Remember that you can book your flights through 1stQuest and use my 5% discount code: ATC-QST


Map of the two-week Iran backpacking itinerary


Day 8, 9 – Yazd

With its perfectly-shaped old city, cute mosques, souvenir shops and plenty of decent coffee places, Yazd is, by far, the most touristic city in Iran. It reminded me a lot of Khiva in Uzbekistan.

With tens of tour groups overrunning the magnificent narrow alleys of the old town, to be very honest, I am not the biggest fan of Yazd but, truth be said, it is a very beautiful city and, perhaps, the most photogenic in the country.

Moreover, I also liked Yazd because it is a nice place to chill out. After hectic travels and hard-backpacking, it is always nice to finally be in a place where you are just one more tourist, find good accommodation, coffee and loads of food choices.

So yeah, I actually enjoyed Yazd and it should be a must on any Iran itinerary.

This used to be a Silk Road trading town, so there is a lot of heritage dating from that period. The coolest thing to do in Yazd is get lost in the old city, while you check the wind-towers and stumble across the different sites and mosques, the most remarkable being Masjed e-Jameh, a mosque from the 15th century and one of the tallest in Iran, with 48-meter minarets.

At sunset, you must go to a rooftop to enjoy the views. There are many hotels and cafés that allow you to do that. Some places will charge you 1€, while in others you just need to order something. I can’t recommend anyone in particular because all of them have different view perspectives but Orient Hotel is a popular spot.

Moreover, just outside of the old city, you find the Amir Chakhmaq complex, the famous three-storey facade building and the main landmark in the city.

Also, you should know that Yazd has the second largest population of Zoroastrians, a religion that dates back at least 4,000 years and was the official religion in the pre-Islamic Persian Empire. Here, they have one of their holiest sites, the Fire Temple, which has a flame which they claim hasn’t stopped burning since the 5th century.

Iran travel itinerary
The views from somewhere in Yazd – Iran travel itinerary

Where to stay in Yazd

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Budget Hostel – Yazd Hostel RestUp– The only real backpacker hostel in town, this traditionally decorated hostel is the best option for budget travelers. Click here to see the latest prices

Mid-range Hotel – Moshir al Mamalek Garden Hotel – You will love this place. A building with real wind towers, many travelers claim that this the best hotel they ever stayed at in Iran. Click here to see the latest prices

For more options: Click here to check all the available hotels in Yazd


How to get to Yazd from Esfahan

Esfahan to Yazd is a good 4 to 5-hour ride and buses run frequently.

Click here to see the bus timetables from Esfahan to Yazd

Iran itinerary 8 days
Jameh mosque in Yazd – Iran itinerary 8 days


Day 10, 11, 12 – The desert of the Kaluts

In Kerman province, quite far away from everything, you find the Kaluts, the most silent and remote desert I have ever been to.

Here, NASA registered the highest temperature ever found on the Earth’s surface (71ºC) so, if possible, try not to come in summer. Nevertheless, the temperature cools down exponentially in the evening, so you should be fine for the sunset.

Life is not possible in the Kaluts, not even microorganisms, but its beauty and sunsets are out of this world, similar to the Mars landscape so, if you are fancying some desert adventure, this is the place to go.

If you have time, you can also visit Kerman city, as well as Shazdeh Garden and Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine. These sites are quite off the beaten track and the people in Kerman are always happy to meet foreigners.

The closest settlement to the Kaluts is an oasis town named Shahdad, famous for its date plantations, handicrafts made of palm trees, lovely traditional guesthouses and desert fortresses.

For more information, read my guide: A trip to the desert of the Kaluts

Iran independent travel
Me, somewhere in the Kaluts playing with my drone – Iran independent travel

Where to stay in the Kaluts

You can camp if you go on a pre-arranged tour but, if not, you can stay at the nearest village called Shahdad. There is a very budget guest house called Ab Anbar and a fancier one named Nebka. Both are nice.

How to get to the Kaluts from Yazd

If you are traveling independently in Iran, first, you need to go to Kerman city, which is around 400km from Yazd. It is quite a journey, so I recommend you take an overnight bus (or train).

Click here to see the bus timetables from Yazd to Kerman

Shahdad is 100km from Kerman and a taxi would roughly cost 850,000IR. For going to the Kaluts, you need to arrange a 4WD and a guide.

I recommend you book the tour with 1stQuest, which costs 89€ per person (-5% with my discount code: ATC-QST). 


Typical handicrafts from Shahdad


Day 13, 14 – Shiraz

I love Shiraz.

Actually, I stayed here for 10 days, mainly because I was doing a project for a company but I enjoyed my time very much.

For some reason which I don’t know, the people from Shiraz are very open-minded, more than other cities in Iran. Actually, I drank more alcohol here than anywhere else in the country. One day, one guy invited me to his house at 9:30am in the morning and gave me some shots of arak. It was a nice feeling to wander around Shiraz a bit tipsy after that.

There are also a lot of things to do in Shiraz, like visiting Vakil mosque, Nasir al-Molk, the famous mosque with the famous color effect from the sun rays; the ancient Vakil Bazaar, the less visited, but outstanding, Shrine of Shah-e Cheragh; Hazfez Tomb and, of course, the ancient Persepolis, the ruins of what used to be the center of one of the greatest empires that ever existed.

For more information, read my guide: Things to do in Shiraz

Day trips from Shiraz

I did some 1-2-day trips from Shiraz, including visiting the Qashqai Nomads, the ruins of the Sassanid Empire, trekking in the Zagros Mountains and a quick trip to the Pink Lake. To visit these places, you will have to add 1 or 2 additional days for each one to your original Iran itinerary.

Clerics at the tomb of Hafez

Where to stay in Shiraz

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Backpacker Hostel – Taha Traditional Hostel – A real backpacker hostel, very well-located and great traveling atmosphere. Highly recommended! Click here to see the latest prices

Boutique Hotel – Niayesh – The busiest hotel in town, where everybody stays, from backpackers to wealthy couples and tour groups. Breakfast is included and it has several outdoor areas where you can rest and get some food. Click here to see the latest prices

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Shiraz


How to get to Shiraz from Kerman

It’s a 7 or 8-hour trip, so I strongly recommend taking a night bus.

Click here to see the bus timetables from Kerman to Shiraz


Getting out of Shiraz

You can take a direct bus to Tehran, no problem, but if you want to save time, consider flying.

Click here to see the prices of flying from Shiraz to Tehran

Inside Shrine of Imamzadeh-ye Ali Ebn-e Hamze


Independent travel to Iran – 3-week Iran itinerary

If you have an extra week for independent travel in, consider getting off the beaten track, so I suggest you visit Golestan province and Mashhad. This is just my personal opinion but the truth is that I really loved these places. Let me tell you why.

Map of the three-week travel itinerary to Iran


Day 15, 16 – Mashhad

There are two reasons to visit Mashhad:

One is to visit the Imam Reza Shrine and the other is to stay at Vali’s.

As you may know, Mashhad is the holiest place in Iran and one of the most important cities for Shia Muslims in the world. The reason is that the shrine is where Imam Reza rests, the 8th Imam of Twelver Shiïtes.

The shrine is the largest religious complex in the world and, when you step in, it is easy to understand why. It is f*** huge and you will lose count of all the courtyards and different mosques.

The only downside is that you can’t take in a professional camera but only your phone. I didn’t know that and had to leave my camera and tripod at the entrance and didn’t have battery on my phone, so no pictures for me. Moreover, if they see you are a foreigner, they will assign you a guide, which kind of sucked as well, because mine didn’t explain anything to me but just made me follow him. You can, however, sneak in easily.

As the top pilgrimage site in the country, Mashhad is a wealthy city with a great tourism infrastructure, as it receives loads of pilgrims from Lebanon and Iraq, two countries with large Shia populations. There is a modern metro line and plenty of different food options, including Lebanese restaurants.

The second reason to come is to stay at Vali’s. Vali has a family homestay that, for years, has hosted plenty of international travelers, especially overlanders going (or coming) from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

I stayed 4 days at his house as the only guest and we celebrated the Iranian New Year, ate great homemade food and they just took very good care of me. Besides, he has plenty of stories to tell, is very talkative and can you take outside of the city for day trips.

Visit Vali’s website for more details.

Imam Reza shrine – Photo by Bruno Vanbesien

Go to Kang on a day trip

I recommend you go to Kang, a traditional stepped village 50km from Mashhad. It’s very beautiful to see and there are some small trekking opportunities around the area.

To go there, take the Metro Line 1 to Vakilabad and then a bus or shared taxi. Additionally, a trip by taxi from the city center with 1-hour visit costs 600,000IR.


Where to stay in Mashhad

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Budget – Vali’s – Like I said, staying at Vali’s is one of the best things to do in Iran. Visit his website for more information.

Mid-range – Darvishi Royal Hotel – Vali’s is great but it’s a place for budget backpackers. If you wanna stay in a good hotel, this is one of the best options in town. Click here to see the latest prices



How to get to Mashhad

Being the most visited city in the country, you can get here on a direct bus or train from anywhere in Iran, including Shiraz, if you are following the suggested itinerary. The only downside is that Mashhad is really far away, no matter where you are, so if don’t have much time, consider flying in. I personally went by train from Bandar Abbas and it was a 23-hour journey.

Click here to book your bus and flight tickets to Mashhad

Kang, Mashhad
The village of Khan


Day 17, 18 – Gonvad e-Kavus

Gonvad e-Kavus is the main city in Golestan province, one of the least visited provinces in Iran but, controversially, the most beautiful.

I bet that you didn’t know that this province is home to the largest population of Turkmens, the actual people from Turkmenistan. This means that, in Golestan, there is a clear Central Asian culture, visible in their food, nomadic life and Mongolian features.

In Gonvad-e Kavus you find a UNESCO World Heritage site (a 72-meter tower), handicraft shops selling traditional Turkmen products and is the gateway to some of the most striking scenery in the whole country.

Golestan is the ultimate destination for independent travel to Iran.

For more information, read my travel guide to Golestan

Where to stay in Gonvad e-Kavus

There are very few options and your best bet will be staying in Hotel Ajam or Couchsurfing.

How to get to Gonvad e-Kavus from Mashhad

You should take a night bus. It’s an 8-hour journey.

Click here to see the latest bus timetables from Mashhad to Gonvad e-Kavus

The UNESCO World Heritage tower


Day 19, 20 – Khalid Nabi

Also located in Golestan, Khalid Nabi is the most stunning site I visited in my Iran itinerary, and not for the site itself but because it is located in the most epic spot ever.

Basically, Khalid Nabi is a cemetery where a pre-Islamic prophet and his followers are buried. The prophet is buried inside a cute building, whereas all his followers are found under some penis-shaped rocks.

The bigger the penis is, the older the man when he died. If you see a cross-shaped rock, it means that the person buried is a woman.

The archaeological is not the only reason to come but the landscape is absolutely gorgeous and the area is filled with small Turkmen villages and nomadic yurt camps.

Fucking epic Khalid Nabi

Where to stay in Khalid Nabi

If you want to experience the real Turkmen and Central Asian culture, I recommend you stay in Tamer-e Qarah Quzi, a village 35km before from Khalid Nabi. Here, there is a homestay run by Naim and his family, a Turkmen family that will bless you with their hospitality. Besides, Naim can also take you for some trekking and visit nomadic camps. Highly recommended!

How to get to Khalid Nabi and Tamer-e Qarah Quzi

To go to Tamer, you have to get a local shared taxi to Kalaleh (40,000IR) and, from there, a second one to Tamer (40,000IR). Khalid Nabi is just 35km away from Tamer but the road is really bumpy so it takes around 1.5h. A round-trip by taxi costs 400,000IR. I hitchhiked and was picked up by some Iranians from Tehran who were drinking vodka in the car. It was pretty cool.

Remember that, for more information, read my guide to Golestan province

Iran landscape
Fucking epic landscape in Golestan


Iran independent travel – 1-month Iran itinerary

If you have a full month, consider adding the Persian Gulf Island and the north-west to your Iran itinerary.

Map of the 30-day travel itinerary to Iran


Qeshm Island – 3 extra days from Shiraz

Note – You should come here after Shiraz.

If you wanna taste the Persian Gulf culture, I suggest you add Qeshm Island to your Iran itinerary.

The Persian Gulf culture is the traditional culture from Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and, of course, south Iran. This culture, however, is fasting disappearing in the Arab countries but, fortunately, not in Qeshm.

The inhabitants of Qeshm are Sunni Wahabis, the most conservative branch of Islam. The most surprising thing is the way local women dress, in such colorful abayas and wearing some strange masks. It may seem a bit intimidating but they are actually quite laid-back and you can take photos of them, no problem.

Qeshm is also famous for its geology, consisting of strange rock formations. To see this, go at sunset to Star Valley. I also suggest you visit the Shib Deraz and the Sea Turtle Breeding Area, Hengam Island, Laft and, of course, try the local food, which consists of spiced seafood.

You can also take a ferry to Hormuz Island, which leaves every day at 9am and 2pm. I personally didn’t go but I have been told that it is a beautiful island.

The only downside of Qeshm Island is that, for people who travel independently in Iran, the public transportation options are scarce.

For more information, read my travel guide to Qeshm Island

Women in Qeshm

Where to stay in Qeshm Island

I recommend you pick one place and do day trips from there.

I personally pitched my tent in Shib Deraz beach but there is also a guest house.

In Qeshm, there are some nice hotels and, if you want to stay somewhere remote, stay in Sar Rig Village, at Asad’s Homestay.


How to get to Qeshm Island from Shiraz

From Shiraz, you need to take a bus to Bandar Abbas (8 hours, 500km).

Click here to see the bus timetables from Shiraz to Bandar Abbas

Once in Bandar Abbas, go to the ferry terminal. Boats leave every half an hour (150,000IR).

People in Qeshm wear similar clothes to the people from the Arab Gulf countries


Masuleh – 3 extra days from Tehran

Masuleh is the most famous stepped mountain village in Iran.

However, being the most famous means that it gets a mix of different opinions and feelings.

The most voracious travelers will tell you not to go because it gets swamped with local tourists, souvenir shops, and pricey restaurants, whereas the rest will tell you that it is a lovely village and you must go.

In my opinion, both are kind of wrong. On the one hand, it is true that Masuleh gets all the attention from all the travel guides and this is because it is actually very cute and has a developed tourist infrastructure. On the other hand, despite being very touristic, most tourists just remain in the village, without knowing that Masuleh is surrounded by some of the most awesome mountains in the country, composed of lush, green plains and remote shepherd huts, which offer amazing trekking opportunities.

I went trekking myself and didn’t bump into absolutely anyone. So yeah, I think that you should definitely come.

For more information, read my travel guide to Masuleh

The actual village

Where to stay in Masuleh

I stayed in a random homestay and you can do the same because there are many. If you are looking for comfort, Aram Hotel seems like a popular mid-range option.

How to get to Masuleh from Tehran

You need to first go to Fuman, which takes 4 hours from Tehran. Masuleh is 34km from Fuman and private taxis cost 300,000-400,000IR. Local shared taxis leave from a station 3km from the main bus station and they cost 100,000-150,000IR.

Additionally, if you don’t find buses to Fuman, you can also go to Rasht, which is a bigger city very close to Fuman.

Click here to see the bus timetables from Tehran to Rasht

Epic shepherd, epic hut


Tabriz – 3 extra days from Masuleh

The city where the famous Persian carpets come from and where you find the largest covered bazaar in the world, Tabriz is a real off the beaten track city and, practically, the only visitors are overlanders coming from the Caucasus countries.

The bazaar has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage site so, if you are into bazaars, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Tabriz also has some very friendly people who haven’t been spoiled by the mass tourism yet, so people are quite a highlight, as well. Don’t forget to visit the Blue Mosque, even though due to an earthquake, it still undergoing a long restoration process.

I also suggest you go to Kandovan, often called the little Cappadoccia, a very peculiar cave city easily reachable from Tabriz. For this, you should first take a bus to Osku, which shouldn’t cost more than 40,000IR. Then, a taxi to Kandovan would cost 200,000IR roughly.

Tabriz Bazaar – Photo by FocuzKanpo

Where to stay in Tabriz

Remember that you can use my 5% discount code in all your 1stQuest bookings: ATC-QST

Budget Hotel – Ramsar Guest House – Cheap accommodation for backpackers. (online booking not available)

Mid-range Hotel – Tabriz el Goli Pars – Nothing fancy but good quality service according to its price range. Click here to see the latest prices

For more options: Click here to see all the hotels available in Tabriz


How to get to Tabriz from Masuleh or Tehran

If you are in Masuleh, you should go to the city of Rasht, where you may find direct buses.

If you are in Tehran, take an overnight bus because it is a very long way. They leave daily.

Click here to see the bus timetables to Tabriz

Kandovan – Photo by Sebastien Michel


More resources for independent travel in Iran

Remember to always use my code – From booking a hotel to a flight & bus ticket, purchasing insurance and your visa, if it is via 1stQuest, remember that you can use my 5% discount code, as many as you want, whenever you want: ATC-QST

Tour packages – For just 369€, 1stQuest also offers an exclusive package for the independent traveler, which includes 8 nights in mid-range hotels (in Yazd, Tehran Esfahan and Shiraz), 4 VIP bus tickets, your visa and travel insurance. It is a very good deal. My 5% promo code also works when booking this package. Click here to learn more about 1stQuest Tourist package

Tailored tours – Key2Persia is a well-known tour company recommended by Lonely Planet.

Internet in Iran – Just a reminder that you need to a VPN to access all blocked websites. Read this article to know how to find the right VPN for Iran.

Leaving Iran – If you are overlanding to another country, check all my articles and guides to Azerbaijan, Iraq and Pakistan or Central Asia.  

More articles about Iran – Here you can see all my articles and guides to Iran

Travel guides to the neighboring countries – If you are overlanding to or from Iran, read:

Georgia travel guide
Azerbaijan travel guide

Pakistan travel guide
Iraqi Kurdistan travel guide

If you like my website and found this post useful, remember that, if you book any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me maintain and keep Against the Compass going! Thanks 🙂


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  1. Hello Joan, how are you?
    Just discovered your website today and I have to say that this is the most useful blog I have ever visited 🙂
    I have a question. I have 3 weeks in Iran and besides doing the classic itinerary from Tehran to Shiraz I also want to visit one of the less visited places you recommend.
    I can’t decide between Kurdistan and Golestan. Which one would you go with?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Hey man! That’s a very hard question to answer! It really depends on what you like. To be honest, I haven’t visited much of Kurdistan, as I just passed through on my way to Iraq and spent less than 24 hours, but I traveled in Golestan extensively and i loved it because my Turkmenistan visa was denied in the past and Golestan is the closest place in the world to Turkmenistan, as most people there are ethnically and culturally like the Central Asian country.
      Kurdistan is also great, but I had already visited Iraqi Kurdistan before, so I preferred spending more time in Golestan

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